Figen Murray was born in Istanbul and moved to Germany at the age of two in 1963. Twenty years later, she moved to the UK for a new adventure.
Now, a mother of five children and grandmother to five boys, she resides in a peaceful part of south Manchester with husband of 26 years and counting, Stuart.
For over 23 years, Figen worked as a counsellor, a life coach and offered clinical supervision to other counsellors too. She has always had a passion for listening to other people's troubles - helping them get back on track to lead happier, healthier lives is a role she finds both challenging and rewarding.
On the 22nd May 2017, Figen’s life as she knew it changed forever.
Her son, Martyn Hett, was one of the 22 people killed in the devastating Manchester Arena bombing attack.
The shock, heartache and emptiness felt by Figen’s family was overwhelming. In the aftermath, friends, family and even strangers flocked to support her and her grieving family, and while there was nothing anyone could do to bring Martyn back, the acts of kindness strengthened their faith in humanity.
While many would assume Figen’s anger at what happened to Martyn, she was defiant in her message that hate fuels hate, and that being angry would only cause more heartache and pain.
Figen made it her mission to promote peace and positive change in Martyn's name.
Following the decision to no longer continue her work as a counsellor, Figen is now committed to her mission of promoting peace, kindness and tolerance in Martyn’s memory, while also working towards tangible changes that can help ensure no other family has to go through what hers did.
To help people feel less alone, Figen knits bears and gives them personalities and backstories that often relate to mental illness. Figen credits Martyn with helping her gain recognition of her bears - in 2016 his tweets about the teddies went viral on social media. Her online Depop shop, Imperfect Hearts, sells knitted bears with anxiety, OCD, schizophrenia and other mental health conditions. Figen believes every adult should own a teddy bear and she has sold hundreds of them across the world. Her book “Bears Have Issues Too” helps to shine a light on the mental health of adults through her professional knowledge as a counsellor and her more personal, lived experience. In 2017 she created Jordan Bear in Martyn’s memory and set up a Facebook page dedicated to his travels across the world.
By visiting schools, universities and conferences, she is dedicated to helping stop attacks like the Manchester Arena one from happening in the future. She has so far spoken to more than 7,500 secondary school pupils across England, urging them to confront the terrible impact of the Manchester bombing, and raising awareness of the extremism behind it. Her talks also aim to show young people how they can positively influence and shape their own world, encouraging those in attendance to think about acts of kindness whilst at school and outside of it.
Figen is also the force behind Martyn's Law, a legislation requiring entertainment venues to improve security against the threat of terrorism, and one that requires that all venues in the city have a counter-terrorism plan. Her petition to make Martyn's Law mandatory received over 23,000 signatures and is now on its way to becoming a reality. She has also just been presented with the Outstanding Contribution award at the 2020 Counter Terror Awards for her efforts in stopping terrorism.